ARTICHOKE

There are three distinct types of artichoke, the globe, Jerusalem and Chinese.

Globe Artichokes:

These have very handsome foliage but are grown for the fleshy scales of the flower heads and are more popular on the Continent than in this country. Deep, fertile soil, enriched with compost, suits this crop. It is very variable from seed and better specimens are obtained by planting the suckers in March 2—3 ft. apart. Remove the smaller flower heads as they form — they can be eaten steamed or boiled, although the taste is an acquired one. Give plenty of water in dry weather. Winter protection is necessary on most soils, except those which are light and dry. Cut all flower stems down to soil level in October and earth up the inner leaves, afterwards covering with leaves, strawy litter or bracken. This covering is removed the following March. Globe artichokes usually deteriorate after the second year and fresh plantings should be made.

The summer growths of globe artichokes are often blanched and are then referred to as chards. Cut down the plants to about 6 in. from soil level and keep them moist by regular watering until late September. To blanch the stems, tie bands of straw or raffia round the stems and cover with soil. The blanched stems should be ready to eat about 6 weeks later.

Jerusalem Artichokes:

These are tuberous-rooted, and will grow almost anywhere, provided the soil is not waterlogged. They need a fairly long season of growth and should be planted between late January and early March, 4 in. deep and about 15 in. apart. Keep the ground free from weeds and give some support in late summer to anticipate autumn gales.

Lift the tubers in autumn as soon as the leaves turn yellow. They are perfectly hardy and can be lifted at intervals throughout the winter, storing in a shed under sand or dry soil.

Great care must be taken when lifting to remove every piece of tuber as any portion remaining will grow. It is best to use some of the tubers each year for making a fresh bed.

Fuseau and Sutton’s White are good varieties, the older types tending to blacken when cooked and having an inferior flavour. The boiled tubers are not to everyone’s taste and the flavour is usually better if they are parboiled and subsequently baked.

Chinese Artichoke or Crosnes:

This is a curious plant with creeping tuberous rhizomes, resembling the larva of a caterpillar. Like the Jerusalem artichoke it flourishes on any soil. Plant the tubers in March, 3 in. deep and 9 in. apart. Lift in early October or later and use immediately, as they discolour rapidly if exposed to light and are then tasteless.

The tubers are relatively small and it is easy to miss a few when lifting. It is best to store any required for next year’s planting in boxes of sand in a shed.

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